Airlines charge outrageous fees for virtually everything, but passengers might soon get their revenge. AP reports that the Department of Transportation wants airlines to refund checked baggage fees if the bags don’t arrive promptly. Additionally, if airlines are unable to provide extras on flights, they will be required to refund all those fees as well. The department will issue the proposal in the next several days. If the proposal makes it all the way through the process, the new rules could take effect by next summer.
Under current regulations, airlines are only required to issues refunds when bags are lost. They also have to compensate customers for “reasonable” expenses incurred due to late bags. But the issue is that the government doesn’t have records on how often airlines keep the fees anyway.
If the proposal passes, the DOT will require airlines to offer refunds for late bags. The airline will have to deliver bags within 12 hours of a domestic flight landing or 25 hours after an international flight. If they fail to do so, they will have to refund whatever fees that customer paid.
Airlines refunding baggage fees is just the start
According to AP, President Biden will soon sign an executive order covering several airline-consumer regulations. An unnamed official said that the proposals in the executive order are designed to boost competition and give consumers more power.
John Breyault, a vice president with the National Consumer League, spoke to AP about the proposal. He said that Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg seems to be paying closer attention than did his predecessor, Elaine Chao. That said, he would like to see the Biden administration move faster. Based on the following quote, he appears cautiously optimistic about the next few years:
“The proof will be in the pudding whether this DOT will make consumer protection a real priority after four years of benign neglect, at best, and active regulatory sabotage at worst.” – John Breyault
As the report notes, fees for checked bags were relatively uncommon as recently as two decades ago. Now, virtually every airline other than Southwest charges passengers for every bag they check. Over the past two years, American Airlines has generated $2 billion from checked bag fees alone, while Delta and United each raked in around $1.5 billion from the fees.